UEA scientists watch killer whales hunt in the Antarctic

Whales in the Antarctic
A pod of killer whales appeared hunting a humpback whale

Scientists from the British Antarctic Survey have described their amazement at seeing killer whales hunting from on board the RRS Sir David Attenborough.

Daisy Pickup and Dr Isabel Seguro have joined a team of 30 for two months researching the ship's science capabilities in deep polar waters.

The pair, from the University of East Anglia, have been collecting data and preparing the ship for future trips.

While on board they have also witnessed an orca pod hunting a humpback whale.

killer whale
Scientists were called on deck to see the dramatic scene

"Somebody shouted 'Orcas'," said Dr Seguro. "We all ran out, very excited. We witnessed about 30 orcas, chasing a humpback whale. It was very dramatic."

"We hope the humpback got away," added Ms Pickup.

Dr Isabel Seguro
Dr Isabel Seguro is carrying out research on global warming

As well as doing their own research - taking measurements to analyse the speed of the ice melting - the pair have been helping test and prepare the RRS Sir David Attenborough's equipment for further trips for the Cambridge-based British Antarctic Survey.

"Whatever we do here is helping us set the basis for the next project," said Dr Seguro.

Daisy Pickup
Daisy Pickup is part of the team preparing the RRS Sir David Attenborough for future trips

The two scientists, based in Norwich, said the team was definitely looking forward to heading home at the end of March, following many days and nights of freezing temperatures in Antarctic waters.

"We are very excited to see green again," said Ms Pickup.

RSS Sir David Attenborough
The £200m RRS Sir David Attenborough is described by the British Antarctic Survey as a floating polar research laboratory (stock image)

"There are not a lot of trees here, so it will be really nice to see green trees.

"When all you've seen is sea for five weeks, you're ready to see a different landscape."